Embudo Creek - 01. Near Rio Lucio to Hwy 75

Embudo Creek, New Mexico, US


01. Near Rio Lucio to Hwy 75

Usual Difficulty IV-V(V+) (for normal flows)
Length 5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 170 fpm
Max Gradient 260 fpm

Slots of Fun

Slots of Fun
Photo of Will Rawstron by Roy Hovland taken 05/16/04 @ 3.2 "Medium"

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Rio Embudo at Rio Grande Confluence
virtual-51118 150 - 400 cfs IV-V(V+) 00h38m ~ 56 cfs (too low)

River Description

Embudo means "funnel" in Spanish, and this river certainly lives up to its name! Shortly after it is formed (at the confluence of the Rio Pueblo and Rio Santa Barbara), it plunges into a narrow granite gorge which contains 5 miles of continuous Class V to V+. This is old-school creeking; not really any big vertical drops to run, but extremely continuous rapids with big hydraulics. High-water runs are hectic, and there will be extended sections without being able to eddy out. In general the rapids are very clean, smooth, water-polished granite drops. There are very few strainers and sieves, so the primary danger is flush drowning.

This is an isolated area with an Indian reservation near the put-in and a conservative Hispanic community near the takeout. They don't like boaters or outsiders, period. Harassment in the past has included throwing kayaks into the rapids while you're scouting, firing shots off in your direction, and vandalizing your car. This usually has been the result of out-of-state boaters driving through town at 60 mph with a stack of boats on the roof; Can you say "easy target?" It's best to drive slowly in this area, be respectful, and keep a low profile. If you do that, you probably will have no problems.

Check out pics of Rio Embudo (and many other Central Rockies classics) taken at Low and Medium water levels.

To get there:
Do not park at the highway bridge takeout (as described in Colorado Rivers and Creeks, II).
The "arroyo" takeout is the preferred takeout.
Check newmexicoh2o.com for details on the put-in/take-out; They are difficult to find.

The reaches of the Taos Box area are:

Ute Mountain Class II
Razors Class III/IV)
Upper Box Class V/V+
Lower Box Class III/IV
Pilar Class III/IV
Otowi Bridge Class III
Red River Class IV
Rio Pueblo Class V+
Rio Embudo Class V+


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-07-15 03:49:56

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
2.0Class IIIIII
2.3Class IVIV
2.5Long Rapid5.0
3.5CheeseGrater Falls5.0Hazard Waterfall
3.6MJ Falls5.0Hazard Waterfall
3.7Rio De Las TrampasAccess Waterfall
4.0Carnival Rapid5.0
4.1Class IIIIIIAccess
4.5The S-Turns5.0Hazard
4.6Slots of Fun5.0Hazard Waterfall
4.7Taco Garden5.0
5.0the TakeoutIIITakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Put-In (Class III)
There is about a 1/4 mile hike down to the river. You will have 2 miles of Class II to warm up on before the rapids. If you have a lot of water in this section you are in for a big day!

Class III (Class III, Mile 2.0)
From this point to the bottom of Long Rapid there will be no pools or even a slight pause in the rapids. It will just get exponentially steeper...

Class IV (Class IV, Mile 2.3)
Fast Class IV will last for about 1/4 mile.

Long Rapid (Class 5.0, Mile 2.5)
This is one of those aptly named rapids. The start of the rapid is very ambiguous, essentially at some point you will have noticed the continuous Class IV just got a hell of a lot burlier! About a mile of non-stop Class V later you will come to something resembling a pool, this could be considered the end of Long Rapid. This is the deepest part of the Embudo Gorge, if you swim here you are SCREWED!

CheeseGrater Falls (Class 5.0, Mile 3.5)
This is an impressive rapid, distinctly steeper than anything else in the upper gorge. However, of the big rapids I would rate this one the easiest. It starts off with a nice boof at the entrance, then power left to miss an undercut, then a left to right move as you lose some elevation.

MJ Falls (Class 5.0, Mile 3.6)
You can almost see MJ Falls from CheeseGrater Falls, they are seperated by about 3 rapids. MJ has a pushy twisting entrance with a stout hole at the bottom.

Rio De Las Trampas
The Rio De Las Trampas (River of the Traps) carves a small side canyon into the upper gorge river left just after MJ. Keep your eyes peeled, blink and you'll miss it. There is a waterfall 50 feet from the river that is worth a stop to check out. If this trib is cranking expect the rapids to be jucier downstream.

Carnival Rapid (Class 5.0, Mile 4.0)
The last drop of the upper gorge is a twisting rapid that takes advantage of boaters exhausted from the hard paddling above and takes them for a ride they won’t forget! Boof hard left at the entrance, then boogie right to miss a big overhanging f-u rock.

Class III (Class III, Mile 4.1)
There is a mellow ½ mile of Class III between the upper and lower gorges. If you’re in over your head, or if the level is greater than 3.4, it’s highly advisable that you retreat up one of the gullies on river left in this mellow section. The best gulch is an obvious notch, located where the river takes a right turn. The hike out is very easy.

The S-Turns (Class 5.0, Mile 4.5)
The lower gorge starts off with Pinball and Slamdance, these rapids are stacked right on top of each other and have severe zigzagging lines. The last drop in Slamdance is a perfectly formed river wide hydraulic. At high water this rapid will blend in with Slots of Fun and Taco Garden into a giant mile long V++ monstrosity.

Slots of Fun (Class 5.0, Mile 4.6)
Slots is the poster boy of the “funnel river”. There are about 5 distinct Class V drops flowing headlong into the next, with each one bigger than the last, culminating in a completely boxed in 15 footer. The 15 footer is super bony, not reccommended to run it below 3.0. This rapid is extremely difficult to portage. It can be portaged in its entirety on river right, however I refer to this as the "pure misery" portage. The only other option is to portage halfway down on the left, do a death ferry, and finish on the right. With the exception of the death ferry, this is a much easier portage!

Taco Garden (Class 5.0, Mile 4.7)
At the bottom of Slots of Fun the gorge opens up and the river bed gets wide and shallow but the gradient keeps crankin’ right along for another ½ mile. This section was named Taco Garden back in the day of long pointy boats, but these days pinning and folding your boat is a lot harder!

the Takeout (Class III, Mile 5.0)
This is the arroyo takeout, the Hwy 75 bridge is about 2 miles downstream.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 19 2016 (912 days ago)
hkaelan (158232)
The gage is not reliable. Ask about flows before putting on.

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